Press launch for 2010 General Election campaign - 13 April 2010
If the polls are to be believed we are three weeks away from a Tory Government. Even after 13 years of New Labour the thought still sends a shiver up the spine.
Politics in Scotland is about to be turned upside down.
And let's be clear from the outset the blame for the Tories return will lie with the failure of New Labour. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown exploited working people for 13 years with the poorest and most vulnerable worse hit. As the political outriders of a corporate elite they pandered to the culture of greed at the heart of finance capital, the City traders, the billionaire tax dodgers and the profit crazed industrialists who chased cheap labour and expensive pleasures.
Blair is remembered for one thing alone - his warmongering lies on Iraq.
Brown for the worst economic collapse in 80 years and for foolishly predicting 'There will be no return to boom and bust.'
They privatised our NHS with their infamous PFI contracts, they privatised our schools, they even privatised our prisons and they finally tried to sell off the Royal Mail to Deutsche Post.
They redistributed wealth TO the rich FROM the poor and left one in three children in poverty - even more children in absolute poverty than they started with 13 years ago - all this despite the longest period of economic growth in history.
New Labour, good riddance.
But let's speak frankly to the people of Scotland today.
The Scottish Socialist Party believes working people need to gird their loins for there is stress ahead. There is an economic and social tsunami on the way. The Tories intend to make working people pay for the economic collapse and you should expect the attacks to be as bad as the Thatcher years.
Four key issues then dominate this election.
1 THE COLLAPSE OF THE ECONOMY AND THE CUTS
Who caused this economic crisis? The corporate elite in Government and the banking sector.
Britain's debt now at unprecedented levels - £870 billion = 13% of GDP goes on repaying that debt. Tories intend to make working people / the most vulnerable pay the biggest price.
In the so called 'free market' working people are thrown crumbs from the rich man's table in booms. In bad times the full weight of the collapse falls on them.
So where is the 'social justice' now?
What is 'fair' about a future where the poor bail out the rich, where the innocent bail out the guilty, where the frugal bail out the financially reckless?
To Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats such phrases as 'social justice', 'fairness' and 'democracy' are a sham!
What would the SSP do to get out of the crisis? PUT PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT
1. NO CUTS IN OUR PUBLIC SPENDING
Working people and the poor rely on those services. Furthermore they are not good enough as things stand we need far greater investment in housing, social care provision, transport infrastructure, environmental improvement, healthcare and education.
2. TAKE OWNERSHIP OF BANK ASSETS NOT JUST LIABILITIES
RBS, HBOS, Northern Rock, Bradford and Bingley between them they have more than £1 trillion in assets - that is £1000 billion. The profits they make could go towards helping those most in need. The 4 bankers parties talk of various 'levies' on bank profits. This is the banks talking, and it is nowhere near enough. Our proposal reflects the people of this country telling the banks what is to be done for a change.
3. Scrap TRIDENT and save £100 billion.
4. Scrap ID cards and save £billions.
5. Scrap the European Fighter Aircraft project
6. TAX the rich, including the Scottish Service tax - our income based alternative to the Council tax.
7. Recover £130 billions per year tax 'AVOIDED' by the wealthy via the British tax havens.
8. Bring home the troops from Afghanistan.
70% of voters want to see Britain end our occupation of Afghanistan and bring home the troops.
For them and us this is a senseless war, one that see Britain occupying another country, moreover we are occupying a country guilty of no crime, a country that has seen 50,000 innocent Afghan civilians killed, a country that does not want us to be there.
We reject the view that we are there to protect our national security.
This is the second poorest country in the world. Afghanistan has never threatened us. We on the other hand have invaded and occupied their country three times now.
Neither do we accept that we are making the world a safer place by occupying Afghanistan. Quite the reverse in fact, we do enormous damage to Britain's international reputation and increase the likelihood of attacks here by our unwarranted aggression.
We want to see British troops brought home because we believe this is a 'dishonorable' war.
We have a duty to those in our armed services not to deploy them where they ought not to be. We need to protect the lions in the battlefield from the donkeys in the High Command.
Our soldiers are there to serve the interests of the people and the people of this country have made it repeatedly clear they do not want our troops to be in Afghanistan.
The SSP campaigns day in day out throughout Scotland to bring the troops home.
3 CLEAN UP POLITICS AND CLEAR OUT THE MONEYMEN
They say that Guy Fawkes was the only man who went to Parliament 'with honourable intentions'. The Westminster Parliament has never been held in such low regard. And no wonder. The greed and embezzlement exposed there in recent times is the last straw for millions.
Worse than the blatant corruption has been the contemptible attitude many MPs have shown to the public disgust. Their shameful attempts to try and defend the situation has made things worse. It has all highlighted how completely out of touch they all are with the people they were supposed to be 'representing'. This institutionalised corruption poses some profound questions for politics in Britain. What kind of 'representatives' do we now have in this so called 'representative democracy'? Just who is it our MPs represent? Why are they all so motivated by naked self interest and money? Why is it that rich, middle class lawyers, accountants, bankers and businessmen are so over represented and that working people; nurses, firefighters, carers, railwaymen, engineers, office workers and home helps not at all?
The answer of course lies in the identikit politicians, identikit political parties and the greed they defend elsewhere in society and their identikit overriding ambition just to make money out of politics.
That is why they are all in it, pure and simple.
People often say 'Huh! They are all the same.' Well the SSP certainly is not. All our 'representatives' stand as 'Workers MPs on a Workers Wage'.
We heed the advice James Connolly, that great socialist from this quarter of the city, gave 100 years ago to those who sought to represent working people 'Rise with your class, not out of it'.
When everyone is on £66,000 a year MPs can get that too as elected 'representatives'. Until then they should live on the same wages as those they represent.
This example was on the SSP set in Holyrood. It helps MPs remain in touch with those who elected them. It also helps them keep the fire burning deep inside them, impatient to see the improvements working people need now not later.
How do we make sure we elect a truly 'representative Parliament'?
1. We start with the wages. MPs receiving the average wage of working men and women would soon get rid of the lawyers and moneygrabbers.
2. Parliament should provide MPs with a flat they can rent for the period they serve at Westminster.
3. All expenses must be backed up by a receipt and strictly necessary for the job.
4. MPs should be obliged to publish their accounts every 6 months for all their constituents to see - in The Big Issue perhaps.
4 FOR A MODERN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
The Scottish Socialist Party stands for independence, for an independent socialist Scotland.
We reiterate this point here again in this election because we believe Independence is about to climb back up the political agenda.
If the Tories do indeed win the election, without a mandate to govern Scotland, the infamous 'democratic deficit' that led to the creation of the devolved Holyrood Parliament resurfaces. This is not now nor has it ever been a dry constitutional issue for the SSP.
We are clear that working people in Scotland will be economically, socially, culturally and politically better off if we are to determine our own future free from the interference of the British state.
Scotland would be free from nuclear weapons, would not have its soldiers occupying other countries on behalf of British Imperialism. We also believe it would be a modern democratic republic with an elected head of state, no monarchy and no House of Lords wither because that is what Scots want.
The election of an 'alien' Tory Government at Westminster without a mandate to govern in Scotland carrying out savage attacks on public services will put these issues into sharp focus.
That is the forward looking progressive vision for Scotland which we put in front of the Scottish people today.